Monday, March 31, 2008

AM radio not feeling buzz of digital

We always expect technology to come running to our rescue. The latest cell phone or computer always packs more power or features, so the last thing you'd expect would be a technological advance that takes us a step backward.

But that's the story when it comes to digital AM radio. Now, don't be confused: Digital FM radio is being rolled out -albeit very slowly - without problems when it comes to reception. It's on the old AM dial where the trouble is.

You remember AM - where top 40 once ran free with jabberjaw deejays, jangling jingles and near-constant promotion. Today's youth are probably barely aware of the band's existence, living in their "I" world of iPods and iTunes.

Yet AM radio now faces a problem more insidious than just being ignored. A so-called technological upgrade - the conversion to a digital delivery system - threatens to turn the dial into a sea of static.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Let’s Go Shopping: HD Radio in Cincy

One Man’s Buying Experience in Ohio Suggests The Receiver Push Is Having Mixed Success

by Thom Moon, 3.12.2008

Moon has spent more than 30 years in radio, mostly developing and analyzing audience research; he describes himself as an even longer-term, all-around radio geek. Reach him at

There has been any number of stories in the trades about the lack of HD Radios at retailers and retail people who know little or nothing about the technology.

Radio World suggested that I see if that had changed any recently.

So I made the rounds of stores that sell electronics in the Cincinnati area. What I found was some improvement; but a lot is yet needed.

Black Friday for HD Radio

Black Friday for HD Radio

This week's Convergence conference in San Jose was a terrific gathering of broadcasters and their partners who feel radio's best days might very well lay ahead. No sticks in the mud, these. Rather, folks with brains and vision and a plan, or at least the hopes of developing one.

This was no place for spin doctors and conventional wisdom. So I was not surprised when Kurt Hanson spoke on radio's future with an emphasis on radio's inevitable future on the Internet.

Nor was I surprised when Kurt veered left to discuss - and dismiss - HD Radio.

What fascinated me was the reaction.

Any room full of broadcasters is full of HD radio doubters, nowadays. But the vibe in this room was remarkable for the eye-rolling and audible snickering that greeted virtually any mention of HD.